Well, ALMOST.

1/29/14

The blogosphere does not need another commentator on the President’s State of the Union speech. But we can’t help it. Here it is.

Initially we had decided not to watch and listen. The disappointments of the past few years had grown too many for us to overlook, and it seemed to us that increasingly the President was becoming not just a lame duck, but also irrelevant to how the country was governed.

Old habits die hard.

And for the first forty minutes of his address, Mr.Obama seemed to be cruising at the altitude he likes best: high, general, moral. He managed to skirt disaster over and over again, mentioning – actually sort of gracing topics with a line or two about nearly everything and making his points succinctly and positively. The speech seemed upbeat and for a while one of his best. He is, after all, a phenomenal speaker.

But by minute 41, it seemed to us he was shrinking. And as the evening wore on to its close, he got smaller and smaller until what we saw before us was a man struggling to stay as tall as he had been on entering the chamber and failing.

When the high-point of the evening is a standing ovation for a severely wounded soldier that seemed to last a good three minutes, everything else is just confetti.

In the end, Mr. Obama got through the miserable task at hand but just barely. There were no notable phrases we could quote, apart from “Climate change is a fact!” (with which we happen to agree) and which, we hope, slapped down the kids in the Tea Party faction of the Republican party.

Apart from that, and the mention of Michelle Obama’s activities (many of them unknown to us before), we came away with very little of note. Yes, he would veto an increase in sanctions on Iran, but that was old news. Yes, America needed jobs and young people needed educations in order to get them. Check. We were (in theory) now self-sufficient in fossil fuel recovery. Check. The Affordable Care Act is good for millions of people (with which we also agree). Check. Without Samuel Alito grimacing down below, the Voting Rights Act had taken a hit. Check.

But we could see how little any of this meant to the Republicans, and how often those who stood and cheered were outliers in Congress rather than movers and shakers. The single Republican saluted was John Boehner, who promptly teared up.

Friends were neither solicited nor made. Listeners were neither persuaded nor particularly enthusiastic.

In fact, although the speech was well-constructed and even better written, we were offered very little by the President that he hasn’t offered before – he was fond of saying, “As I offered last year..”.

The impact of the President’s appearance was limited to admiration for his skill and bravery, about which we have always known. The real value of the speech to people who are in need, jobless, ill, at war in foreign climes, homeless, hungry and daily close to despair, was as nourishing as cotton candy and just as easily forgotten.

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39 thoughts on “Well, ALMOST.

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